[caption id="attachment_10952" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Lost Lake's "GFY"
Their presentation is considerably more elaborate than mine....[/caption]
In Chicago, there is a bar. Well, there are lots of bars in Chicago. In Chicago, there is a Tiki bar. Actually, there are multiple great Tiki bars. In Chicago there is a Paul McGee-created Tiki... (Multiple recursions edited for brevity) Lost Lake is the latest Chicago Bar project from Paul McGee, the Meryl Streep of Chicago bartenders. It is the home of some kick-ass Tiki decor, a ludicrous rum selection, and a menu full of modern original Tiki drinks. One of McGee's latest is the GFY.
Now, GFY is an interesting name... On Lost Lake's Facebook page, they intimate that it stands for "Good-For-You". That's all well and good, but I have my doubts. I don't see anything particularly healthy about it. Indeed given the alcohol content, I'd come close to giving it a 3 out of 3 daggers (†††) on my personal Tiki Lethality scale. Perhaps there is some other phrase GFY could stand for...?
LOST LAKE'S GFY
1 oz. Calvados
3/4 oz. overproof white rum
1/2 oz. Swedish Punsch
1/2 oz. Dry Curaçao
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. passion fruit syrup
1/2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
Combine with one cup crushed ice and flash blend for five seconds. Pour into a Tiki vessel to suit your mood, and garnish to suit.
Calvados is, of course, pretty unusual as the lead spirit in Tiki drinks. This again illustrates how the 21st Century Tiki Renaissance is enriching the Canon with new notes and chords that add variety to the same old beautiful songs. The GFY is not-quite identifiably fruity, deceptively spiritous, and possesses that unctuously heavy feel in each sip. Each of these are hallmarks of a classic Tiki drink.
I haven't actually had a GFY at Lost Lake, or any other drink there for that matter, because I haven't been to Chicago, for business or pleasure, in years. I'd really like to, so I will make an offer to anyone reading this. I will give the first person or business in Chicago to book a Killing Time murder mystery event (yes, my "day job" is just a fun as my booze-writing sideline.) a four hundred dollar discount off the event fee. If interested, please give me a call.
February, 2016 is the eighth Tiki Month, and that means I have been assembling these annual explorations of Tiki drinks and related culture for seven years. I have always concentrated mostly on the history of Tiki and it's golden and silver ages of the 30's and 40's, and the 50's and 60's. That made sense back in 2009, nine years after the closure of the last great Tiki Palace, the Kahiki (right here in Columbus, OH) had signaled the bitter, ignominious "end of the Tiki era".
All that was left of commercial Tiki bars were a few fossilized Trader Vic's. There were just the two lonely outposts of original Tiki drink menus, the boutique joint, Tiki-Ti and the beautifully preserved but then almost entirely tourist-ridden Mai Kai. A few other survivors lurked in obscurity. In the industry, Tiki was a dead letter,
The home Tiki bar in 2009 was, to all but the drinks equivalent of professional cosplayers, this:
And the only such set-up likely to be encountered by a normal American was more this:
In the online world, Tiki's presence was largely limited to a few of the online forum-type websites that flowered (and still exist) in the brief period between the fall of Usenet and the rise of Reddit. But that culture was more about cars, music, clothes, and artwork than it was about drinks. I'd bet that more of this community would have identified beer and bowling in aloha shirts as a celebration of Tiki culture than would have so much as recognized a properly made Mai Tai. I'm not hating here. Where would we be without the monks who preserved Plato and Aristotle during the Dark Ages? The large number of people that are now rediscovering Tiki in commercial bar culture would not and could not be enjoying it without them.
[caption id="attachment_10731" align="aligncenter" width="525"] Full sized prints available at Mahalo Tiki[/caption]
In the blossoming world of the early Cocktailosphere, there were a few, fantastic fanatics in their fezzes and flower leis, who did yeoman work illustrating what had once been for all the rest of us three-ingredient, elegant sophistication-types who made up the majority in the early days of the Cocktail Renaissance. In those days, paring knives, flower pots, and saucepans were almost exclusively the province of the Tikibloggers. It was these explorers, the group I appointed the Board of Tiki Idols and a few others, whose example drove me to start Tiki Month.
I viewed Tiki Month then, as now, as a chance to trade the gray, frozen mud of Ohio's winter depths for those glorious pictures of crazy concoctions and a world of imagination. And to encourage absolutely everyone I reached to at least to some extent to do the same.
And as I prepare for this year's Tiki Month, transforming my ultra-sleek, modern basement bar into the volcano-ravaged, bamboo jungle it becomes each winter, finding new recipes to try and essaying a few originals of my own, it strikes me how fundamentally transformed is the world of Tiki in the eighth year of this experiment.
[caption id="attachment_10734" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco[/caption]
Ten months after the first Tiki Month, Martin Cate opened Smuggler's Cove, which is to this day, the most amazing cocktail bar I have even been to. My friend Blair "Trader Tiki" Reynolds had his personal brand struck down by dark forces, but soon became more powerful than they could have possibly imagined. His line of Tiki syrups has saved me from making orgeat, making Mai Tais a year round part of my repertoire, and now he presides over the mighty Hale Pele, a true exemplar of the modern destination Tiki bar.
[caption id="attachment_10735" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Blair Reynolds, looking all successful and stuff.[/caption]
Anthropologist Jeff Berry, the combined godfather and wet nurse of modern Tiki, has progressed from vagabond attic scrounger and trade show star to proprietor of the world-famous Latitude 29 in the Bienville House in New Orleans, which was world-famous even before it opened simply because the Beachbum was going to own it. Operating Tiki-themed bars are no longer the lone passenger pigeons they were in the Nineties and the Naughties. Indeed, most every major city now sports at least one Tiki den, and it is a measure of the culture's broad appeal that even those who are less than stellar seem able to make a go of it.
[caption id="attachment_10736" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Gotta look at least a little more scruffy, or at least hungover, if you want to keep up the “Beachbum” moniker there, Jeff…[/caption]
The home Tiki bar has gone from pretty much exclusively kits you buy in a plastic bag from Party City or Amazon, to five or even six-figure edifices with fully plumbed fire pits, real jungles, or even water features with real bridges constructed by charmingly psychotic former rap stars....
[caption id="attachment_10725" align="aligncenter" width="550"] A massive swimming pool lagoon that has a lazy river as well as an island and tiki hut.[/caption]
And the drinks... eight years ago, you took your self-respect as a cocktailian into your own hands if you were to order a Mai Tai most places on Earth. Order a Three Dots and a Dash or a Suffering Bastard anywhere and what the bartender would serve you would be an uncomprehending stare.
Today, every self-respecting high-end bartender has a set of Tiki favorites embedded in his or her mental index of showoff recipes. And most every craft bar has a Tiki classic and/or an original or two of their own on the menu. It is no longer surprising to see Tiki mugs or a piece of Tiki artwork tucked away as part of the drinkware or decor of even them most classical of modern dens of mixology.
So, as you can see, the Tiki world has changed immeasurably since I inaugurated Tiki Month all those years ago...
And Doug takes credit for all of it!
No I don't! I...
Yes. Yes he does.
Really, he is simply too modest to say it himself.
Listen. You are embarrassing me...
Lucky for him, he has me here to make sure you know the pride that swells his breast at his single-handed shepherding of Tiki culture back into the public limelight!
The Management of this blog takes no responsibility for the outrageous things that Guy blathers on about, folks!
That's right folks!
It's called plausible deniability, and it's a wonderful thing.
Indeed, Tiki's resurrection is complete. We can now be sure it is not a zombie (har!) but a phoenix. The only question is how long the drums will roll and the lava flow this time round. Given that, while Tiki Month has always been primarily an historical exploration, I intend to focus this year on the state of the modern art of Tiki. I hope you will stick around and journey with me, and if you have a particular favorite modern Tiki drink, let me know; I want to try it. You can subscribe to the feed here. My posts are linked in my Facebook feed, and if you don't mind all manner of silliness mixed with political polemics, you can also keep up via my Twitter feed as well.
Have some Spam, it's delicious!
[caption id="attachment_10726" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Yum[/caption]abc
This cocktail comes by way of Board of Tiki Idols member, Doctor Bamboo. His name for it in its original form is the Pololu. You can find it in Beach Bum Berry's Remixed, since the good Doctor never seems to have blogged it. I changed its name to Tiki Tylenol, because I make some tiny changes in the recipe, and because if Tylenol is a painkiller without asprin, and this is a Painkiller without rum.... Also, like regular Tylenol, too many can result in liver damage.
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake very well to fully emulsify the coconut creme. Strain into a largish cocktail glass and sprinkle surface with powdered cinnamon.
This is a particularly delicious, though non-standard Tiki drink. Gin and Cognac work better together than most people think, and at three ounces, pack quite a punch. My main change is to replace the original St. Germaine with the far more potent Thatcher, and adding a little apricot in place of the pear tones in the St. Germain. This change works well, I think.
It also lead to an interesting discussion two nights ago. I put the Tylenol on the menu for a bunch of bartenders. An hour and a half in, I observed loudly that I hadn't served a single one of these drinks all night. They all looked at me, and one said simply, "It has St. Germain." I replied that no, it had elderflower, not St. Germain, and what did he have against bartender's ketchup? "Nothing," was the reply. "You put a drink with it on your menu and you'll sell hell out of it to one group of customers, but the others won't touch it for anything."
Tropical Morn comes from a drink called simply the Coffee-Pineapple Daiquiri by Tiare of A Mountain of Crushed Ice, and modified to fit my available ingredients and my wife's tastes. Tiare dashed this little ditty off as part of her review of St. Aubin rums, which I (of course) can't get here, in this case their coffee-flavored rum. But since I have managed to acquire a bottle of Brinely Gold's Shipwreck Coffee, which is the only such rum currently available in the US, I thought this would be a good starting spot for experimenting.
Taking her recipe and simply substituting the Shipwreck and my very strong demerara syrup resulted in a drink with a great profile, but one that was a bit too sweet for my tastes. I personally don't like coffee, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is not a coffee bomb. In fact, it is not immediately obvious it is a coffee drink at all. The java and the pineapple sorta merge together to result in the elusively undefinable flavors of a good Tiki drink, in this case a sort of soft, novel spice. It is similar in character but not flavor to vanilla.
But the sweetness detracted from the concoction, so I backed off the quarter ounce of syrup still further, and punched up the lime just a bit to make the citrus element a little more identifiable. Then I gave it a name, since Tiare neglected to do so. The result is a difficult balancing act to make, but a worthwhile drink that is distinct from the crowd while still undeniably Tiki.
2 oz. Shipwreck Coffee Rum
1 oz. fresh pressed pineapple juice, unstrained
3.4 oz. fresh lime juice
splash of 2:1 demerara syrup
Combine ingredients and shake with small ice. Pour unstrained in a small Tiki mug or lowball glass. Top with fresh ice. Garnish with a pineapple leaf construct.
(This post was edited after publication because it had the wrong frigging picture!)